5PM Fiction 003: The big black one with the space in the back
Welcome to the third in the new series: 5pm Fiction.
Late April 2011 I discovered http://StoryADay.org and the project that is to write 31 stories in 31 days. Anyone who knows me or follows this blog, knows how passionate I am about short stories so my clichéd eyes lit up at this new marvel. And just a few days later there I was, breathing life into new characters. This went on to become (with some editing of course) my 31-story collection eBook Story A Day May 2011.
I was nearing completion of the 2012 project when I decided that I didn’t want to stop at the end of May so 5PM Fiction was born. I put a load of prompts on the 5PM Fiction page and today’s prompt was a ‘mixed bag’ (two characters, an object, a location, a dilemma, a trait), and today’s were an undertaker, a school boy, a book, a bus, the bus has broken down and claustrophobia, so here is my 655-worder.
The big black one with the space in the back
I can’t breathe… I… can’t… breathe… Help.
I want to shout but I can’t speak. It’s too hot in here. I’m going to cook. Someone, please, look at me, see what’s happening. I try to cough out the words but all I do is cough.
Yes! He’s looking… I know him! He’s Mr Taylor from that funeral place on Rawlings Terrace. He’s measuring me up for a coffin, I can tell, it’s in his eyes.
Cough. “Hello…” Breathe. “Mr Taylor.”
“You don’t look very well. Are you OK?”
I decide that nodding my head is the best thing to do.
He smiles and I think he really means it. He doesn’t seem disappointed at all that I’m alright. “What are you reading?”
I look down at my book, my dad’s dictionary, and blush. He doesn’t know I’ve got it and he doesn’t like me taking things without asking, so I turn it over so Mr Taylor can’t see the front.
“Just a school book,” I lie and he nods.
“Are you sure you’re OK?”
I nod again and add a smile this time.
“OK. Well… they’ll get the bus running in a minute. And if they don’t they’ll send another bus.”
Oh God. We’re going to have to wait? That could take hours.
Breathe. Mum tells me not to panic, that I should breathe. I’m trying, but all I do is gulp air like a goldfish and some of it goes down the wrong way so I cough again.
I want Mr Taylor to return to his seat but he doesn’t.
“Do you mind if I sit next to you, Billy?”
I shake my head. Mum says I shouldn’t talk to strangers but Dad knows him, pointed him out to me once, so he must be alright and there are lots of people around.
“It’ll be nice to have the company, if I’m honest,” he says to me. If he’s honest? Does that mean he’s not? If they do ‘get the bus running’, will he follow me if I get off alone? Will he…
“Makes me nervous,” he continues.
I don’t know what he’s got to be nervous about, unless he doesn’t travel on the bus very often. He’s not been on mine before. “Nervous? Why?”
“Can you keep a secret?”
I look at my dad’s dictionary and nod.
“I don’t like confined spaces,” he tells me.
I want to open my dictionary but don’t. “What’s confined?” I ask him.
“It’s being in a small space when you want to be in a big one.”
It’s nice to know he feels like I do so I grin like my dad does when my mum’s just kissed him. “But this is a bus, it’s big.”
“I know,” he says and laughs.
“And you’re not alone,” I add.
He nods. I feel a bit better but he doesn’t look so good now. I wait for him to carry on but he doesn’t. “Why did you get on the bus if you don’t like being here?” I know it’s a silly question because I did the same thing but I have to because Mum and Dad are working.
“My car’s being serviced.”
“The big black one with the space in the back for…”
He laughs again. “Yes, Billy, the hearse. I’m on my way to collect it now.”
I’m too young for a car but I know Mum and Dad love driving theirs. It must be horrible for him not to have one, especially one that’s so special.
The bus wobbles and someone behind me cheers. Mr Taylor looks happy too and makes me feel good.
“The garage is on the way to your house, Billy, I could give you a lift, save you being on this thing the whole journey.”
I’ve always wanted to travel in a hearse. Hearse. Confined. I’ve learned two new words today. I don’t think my dad will mind at all.
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords, Sony Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, iTunes Bookstore, Kobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me. I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.
Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.